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How To Make The Drying FlowersHow To Make The Drying Flowers
- Choose only the best flowers, since drying will emphasize imperfections.
- Pick late in the morning when plants are dry but not wilted from heat and sun.
- Select flowers at different stages of development, from buds to fully open blossoms. Flowers will open further as they dry.
- Blue, orange and pink flowers will retain the best color when dried.
- If you can’t begin drying your flowers immediately, immerse them in a bucket of lukewarm water in a cool, dry place.
All you need to air dry your flowers is a warm, dry place with adequate air circulation. Attics, potting sheds, and garages are ideal. Most plants dry best when tied in bunches and hung upside down. Make sure the plants are dry, then tie them and remove all leaves, unless they also dry well. Tie 6 to 10 stems together about two inches from the stem ends, or use a rubber band to fasten them together. Your plants are thoroughly dry when the stems snap easily. This can take up to three weeks.
Chinese lanterns, baby’s breath, poppy seed-heads, and globe thistles dry better right-side up. Simply place the plants in a wide-mouth jar or coffee can to dry. When drying ageratums, hydrangeas, yarrows, alliums, bells-of-Ireland, and heather, place them right-side up in a container with about 1/2-inch of water in the bottom. As the plants dry the water will evaporate. Because they are top-heavy, it’s best to dry fennel, dill, Queen-Anne’s-lace, and Edelweiss by placing the stems through the holes in 1/4-inch hardware cloth. The hardware cloth will support the heavy heads, while the stems hang loosely below.
Globe Amaranth, strawflowers and immortelle have weak stems. These stems should be removed and replaced with florist’s wire before the flower is dried. Cut the plant stem off 1/2-inch below the flower and insert floral wire up through the remaining stem and out through the center of the flower.
Make a hook at the top of the wire, and pull it back down into (but not all the way through) the flower. The stem will shrink and dry tightly around the wire. Once the flower is dry, wrap floral tape around the stem and wire. To strengthen your dried flowers, spray them with clear lacquer, hair spray or clear craft spray.
You will have to test a few plants to determine the drying time. Two minutes set on “high” is a good starting point. Put the plant material inside folded paper towels, and place a dish on top of them to keep the leaves and petals from curling. Place a small dish of water in the microwave with the flowers.
Flowers dried in desiccants retain the best color and shape. Silica desiccants are the most popular and can be purchased at hobby and craft stores. Follow the package directions for best results.
It wasn’t so terribly long ago, I can almost remember as if it were yesterday, that a friend gave me a rather pretty African Violet. At the time I was rather a novice as to what to do with the plant, what did I know about raising a plant. I took one look at my flesh colored thumb and thought, “Doesn’t look green to me.” This is what began the Odyssey of my indoor garden. Since I had little or no knowledge about plants, I thanked the person, and promptly put the little plant on my desk.
There it stayed for a week, minding its own business, I minded my own, and I thought we had come to an understanding that we would just co-exist with each other, but not have any contact. Well, this was a perfect plan, until someone came up to me and said, “Your plant looks a little ill.” I turned to look at the plant, it was looking rather bleak. I had almost expected it to mutter Macbeth’s soliloquy, “Out out brief candle….” but it didn’t. It was just there, looking ill, looking unkempt, which made me look rather brutish, and all I could say was, “It does look ill.”
From that moment I became aware that the plant needed more attention than the occasional look. First, some water, then moving it to a sunny area and then learning everything that a person would need to know about raising an indoor plant. So that brings us to this page, as I write it, the little African Violet sits and watches me type out the pearls of wisdom which has made it thrive from its ill condition.
Before I start with the tips and tricks of how to grow plants, I want to stress how important it is to have plants indoors. Everyone remembers from science class that plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and releases oxygen through photosynthesis. Plants are not that limited though they also remove toxins and pollutants from the air! Will the wonders ever cease! Just one potted plant per 100 square feet, can help clean the air of pollutants. So, for your health, consider having plants indoors.
I’ve written this page to give some helpful hints about indoor gardening, what type of plants to choose, how to make a little herb garden and some links to my favorite web pages. Now that you have the introduction to the page, by all means, click the links to the left so you can begin to understand the wonderful world of indoor plants.
About Drying Flowers
Even with the increased popularity of plastic and fiber flowers (silk for example), many people still prefer “the real thing” preserved in a lifelike manner. Flower preservation has become a popular hobby. Flowers such as marigolds, zinnias, goldenrod, yarrow, roses, and hydrangeas are readily available and the costs of additional materials needed are relatively inexpensive when compared to that of other hobbies.
You can preserve colored fall leaves, magnolia leaves (for wreaths) and mistletoe (for holiday decorations) with glycerin, giving them a very natural appearance. Many people like to preserve the flowers from a wedding bouquet. Preserving flowers and foliage can be fun year round. Some of the more common methods employed to preserve flowers and foliage are covered below.
Many materials have been used to preserve flowers, some more successfully than others. These include sawdust, washing powder, talcum powder, alcohol, cornstarch, silica gel, cornmeal, borax, sand, antifreeze, and even kitty litter! No one material can be considered the best because what may prove best for one flower may be an inferior material for another flower. In addition, it is important to realize that there is a certain amount of expertise involved. People may become skilled using a certain technique, while others may get poor results using that same method with the same flower species.
Except for microwave drying, the methods employed involve slowly drying freshly cut flowers in a manner that results in preserving them in a lifelike manner relative to color, form, flexibility, and texture. This may be accomplished in several ways:
Pressing: This may still be the most popular or familiar method of preserving flowers. The plant material is placed between the pages of a book, which is closed and weighted. Special devices called plant presses to give excellent results. Violets, pansies, larkspur, and ferns preserve well when pressed in this manner. Material preserved with this method can be arranged in framed displays.
Air-Drying: Expose the flowers to warm, dry air in a dark location. This is the oldest and simplest method and is commonly referred to as the “hang and dry” method, a method name somewhat misleading because some flowers are air-dried on wire racks (peonies for example). It was the method used here in America by the English colonists. The majority of the flowers in the dried arrangements displayed at Williamsburg, Mount Vernon, and other historic houses were preserved in this manner. The plant material to be dried is collected, tied, and simply hung upside down in a warm, dark, dry place. The darkness helps preserve the flower color. Flowers dried in this manner should be cut just before being fully open.
Examples of flowers that preserve well by this method are baby¡¯s breath, cattail, statice, celosia, dock, goldenrod, heather, and pussy willow. Flowers dried in this manner are extremely stiff once dried. Blue and yellow flowers retain their colors when air dried, but pink flowers fade. Roses and peonies shrink somewhat when air-dried.
Desiccants: Embedding the flowers in a granular, desiccating material is probably the most commonly used method and many consider it the best all around the method. Several materials may be used, and they vary in cost and the results that they produce. It is important to use the correct procedure when covering the flowers so that their form will be maintained. To cover a flower, put about an inch of desiccating material at the bottom of the container; cut the flower stem to about a half an inch and stick this into the center of the material at the bottom to hold the flower. Next, pour the desiccating material along the perimeter of the container, away from the flower, building up a continuous mound of about an inch.
Then tap lightly on the container and the material will move to the flower, not altering the form of the petals (in other words, the material will not weigh down the petals as it would if it were just poured on top of the flower). Continue adding the material, tapping on the container, etc. until the flower is completely covered. Lastly, add an inch of the material above the top of the flower.
A Couple of “Borax Methods”: This involves burying the flowers in a mixture of borax and white cornmeal (2:1) or borax and sand (2:1). These methods result in flowers that are less stiff than those preserved with the “hang and dry” method, but the particles tend to cling to some flower gardening. Also, in some cases, the sand, because of its rough edges, may produce small holes in the petals. These methods are “trial and error” because the flowers can be burned if embedded too long. About 10 days is the average if cornmeal is used, and about 16 days of drying is needed if sand is used.